Germany should investigate LHG’s possible abuse of its dominant position
Today, the European Commission transmitted formal antitrust charges to Google claiming that the company “abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators” and “implemented a strategy on mobile devices to preserve and strengthen its dominance in general internet search.”
The Business Travel Coalition, and members of its coalition AirChannelChoice.travel, are concerned that the Lufthansa Group (LHG) has since September 1, 2015 possibly abused its dominant position by imposing surcharges of 16 Euros on tickets purchased anywhere other than from its airlines’ websites, service centers and airport ticket counters as part of a strategy to preserve and strengthen its dominance in both the marketplaces for commercial air transportation services and travel distribution services.
Front-line travel industry participants forcefully reject LHG’s attempt to increase their costs, decrease comparison-shopping and diminish inter-channel competition. Germany’s competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, should thoroughly investigate possible abuse of LHG’s dominant market position. (See industry position and comments at http://btcnews.co/1DQLNMX.)
In the marketplace for travel distribution services, airlines, GDSs and travel agencies are competitors. So a threshold question emerges. When a dominant participant in the direct channel intentionally and discriminatorily forces a 16 Euros surcharge on indirect channel participants, is it illegally using its dominant market position in both the marketplaces for commercial air transportation services and travel distribution services to drive up the costs of its indirect-channel competitors harming them and potentially causing many to exit the market?